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Posts Tagged ‘driverless vehicles’

Ford Patent Shows How Autonomous Car’s Steering Wheel, Pedals Could Fold Away

Design would allow manual driving or completely driverless operation.

by on Aug.18, 2017

A patent application illustration shows how Ford would hide the controls in driverless mode.

Autonomous vehicles, we’re regularly told, are just around the corner, and fully driverless vehicles will soon follow. Ford, for one, has said it hopes to remove the driver from the picture entirely by 2021.

Now, a patent granted Ford this month reveals that the self-driving cars Ford is working on could give an owner the option to choose which mode it will operate in. Push a button and the steering wheel and pedals fold up and out of sight. Push again and they reappear, allowing manual driving.

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That option may be essential, at least initially, as autonomous vehicle experts warn that coming up with a vehicle that can operate without a driver on all roads and under all conditions, may take years to develop, despite the optimistic prognostications of automakers like Ford, Daimler, Nissan and tech companies such as Google spin-off Waymo.

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Late to the Game, Honda Puts Autonomous Driving on the Fast Track

Japan's #3 automaker also ramping up electrification efforts.

by on Jun.08, 2017

Author Paul A. Eisenstein goes for a drive in Honda's Level 3 autonomous vehicle prototype.

Honda has long had a reputation for building solid, reliable and fun-to-drive cars and utility vehicles, but it has been slow off the mark in adapting some of the key, cutting edge technologies that are likely to define the automotive world in the decades to come. But that’s about to change, the second-largest of the Japanese automakers lifting the kimono as part of a media tour of its vehicle proving grounds this week.

Among the key revelations made during an opening session, Honda President and CEO Takahiro Hachigo said the carmaker has put its autonomous driving efforts into high gear in a bid to catch up with traditional rivals like Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen, as well as new auto brands and tech players, such as Tesla, Waymo and Uber.

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Honda will put its first hands-free models into production in 2020, although they will only allow autonomous operation on limited-access highways, with a driver at the ready to take control, if needed. Beyond that, said Hachigo, “We will strive to achieve the technological establishment of Level 4 automated driving for personal car use by around 2025.”

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Are Privately Owned Cars Set to Vanish?

“Historic revolution” could see 95% of motorists turn to driverless, shared EVs.

by on May.04, 2017

Waymo is now offering to let the public check out its autonomous vehicles in Phoenix.

When Waymo, the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google began offering to let Phoenix-area families try out its vehicle service last month it touched off what a new study is calling “a historic revolution in transportation.”

While the number of Americans using all forms of ride-sharing – autonomous or otherwise – is currently quite small, RethinkX, an independent think tank that looks at the impact of new technology says it will grow rapidly. By 2030, it predicts in its new report, 95% of the miles traveled in the U.S. will be in self-driving, shared electric vehicles.

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That’s a far more rapid transition than others have been predicting. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group delivered a shock to many by forecasting 25% of U.S. miles would be driven in shared, driverless, electric vehicles by 2030. But “it’s time to adjust our thinking,” said Tony Seba, a co-author of the RethinkX study, “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030: The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the ICE Vehicle and Oil Industries.”

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A Quarter of Miles Driven by 2030 Could Be in Driverless Battery-Cars

Self-driving tech coming to market sooner than expected.

by on Apr.10, 2017

A fully driverless version of this Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid could soon be a common sight.

Both Daimler and Ford plan to have their first fully driverless cars in production by 2025, far sooner than many might have expected just a few years ago. Meanwhile, after a slow start, a new generation of longer range, more affordable battery-cars are just starting to come to market.

By pairing those two technologies, automakers and ride-sharing companies could radically transform the way Americans travel, predicts a new study by the Boston Consulting Group. It predicts that fully a quarter of the miles Americans clock on the road will, by 2025, be driven inside fully driverless battery vehicles operated by ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

“When you take shared vehicles, electrified powertrains suddenly make sense, and it becomes even more practical at this level of autonomy,” said Justin Rose, one of the Chicago-based co-authors of the new BCG study.

Tech News!

The consulting firm isn’t the first to predict a bright future for autonomous vehicles operated by ride-sharing services. Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, has long argued that driverless vehicles will lower the cost of his service to the point it will be cheaper than owning a car. Lyft co-CEO John Zimmerman last year forecast privately owned vehicles will all but vanish from major urban centers within a decade.

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Daimler Drives Deeper into Car-, Ride-Sharing

German maker’s Mercedes brand ties up with Uber, Car2Go.

by on Jan.31, 2017

A subscriber orders a car through the Uber app.

Use the ride-sharing app on your smartphone and you’re likely to have a driver pull up in some basic econobox. Sign up for one of the car-sharing services and you’ll usually find a similarly no-frills model waiting as you rent by the hour.

But Mercedes-Benz wants to take things a bit upscale as it announces new deals with Uber, the largest American ride-sharing service, and short-term rental company Car2Go.

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Automakers from around the world have been rushing to find new ways to expand into new mobility services ventures. General Motors, for one, went so far as to invest $500 million into Uber’s prime competitor, Lyft, last year. But the new Mercedes-Benz deals could give reason for upscale motorists to try out ride and car-sharing alternatives.

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California Questions Regulating Driverless Cars

Does a driver even need to be in the vehicle?

by on Mar.14, 2014

California-based Google already operates a fleet of prototype autonomous vehicles.

At this month’s Geneva Motor Show, Swiss design firm Rinspeed is showing off an autonomous concept vehicle that would allow the driver and front seat passenger to swivel their seats 180 degrees to commune with those in back, much like a living room on wheels.  Others have begun to imagine the idea of taxis and trucks that can wander the roads without a driver at all.

And that has regulators racing to catch up.  Several states have already passed preliminary rules for manufacturers testing their early prototypes.  And in Nevada and Michigan, that means there still needs to be a licensed driver sitting behind the wheel ready to take control in an instant if there’s a problem.  There’ll be no texting, reading, shaving – or drinking, for that matter.

Global Auto News!

But California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is trying to look beyond and ask what happens when autonomous vehicles are actually on the road and in the hands of consumers, whether being operated by a commuter, a taxi driver or a truck fleet operator.  And the questions are taking on an air of increasing urgency considering that Nissan last year said it hopes to quickly take the technology out of the realm of science fiction and make it a reality by 2020.

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Buyers Show Increasing Interest in Autonomous Vehicles

Many motorists say they’ll never drive again if autonomous cars become available.

by on Nov.05, 2013

The first autonomous vehicles are expected to go into production by the end of the decade.

Nissan and several other automakers have promised to put the first fully autonomous vehicles into production by the end of the decade, and industry analysts suggest the technology could become increasingly commonplace in the years to follow. That, of course, raises one basic question: will consumers buy vehicles that can drive themselves?

Despite a fair amount of skepticism, the answer appears to be yes.  Interest in autonomous driving is growing, according to a new survey by CarInsurance.com, which found the one in five drivers were interested in systems that could help pilot a vehicle, many potential buyers saying they would never again take the wheel again if a self-driving, or autonomous, car were available.

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While 20% of the 2,000 licensed drivers surveyed said they would turn over the keys, interest in autonomous vehicles increased when the prospect of reduced insurance rates was introduced into the equation.

“Our survey shows cheaper insurance will greatly influence consumer acceptance,” said CarInsurance.com managing editor Des Toups.

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Era of Accident-Free Driving May be Within Reach

Driver assistance systems a stepping stone to full autonomous vehicles.

by on Oct.10, 2013

Hands off! A Continental autonomous vehicle prototype handles the driving on Detroit's I-75.

Is the auto industry approaching a high-tech era of accident-free driving?

New rules in Europe going into effect in 2014 will require vehicles to have advanced driver assistance features such as lane departure and forward collision warning systems to get a top safety rating – and that’s accelerating the development of new driver-assist technologies that could sharply reduce the number of common accidents due to driver error, industry leaders predict.

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The new rules, in turn, are bringing the age of fully automated driving ever closer, said Steffen Linkenbach, Continental AG director of engineering systems and technology, the German supplier pushing to become a leader in the fast-emerging field.

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First Driverless Cars Could Be on the Road by 2020

But will legal system stall autonomous technology?

by on Apr.17, 2013

Google's autonomous car cruises the Las Vegas strip.

The first driverless cars could begin to roll into showrooms by 2025 – if not sooner — a panel of experts agreed during the annual convention of automotive engineers in Detroit.

And many of the technologies that will permit autonomous driving will become commonplace even sooner.  Indeed, most major carmakers already offer automated parking systems and radar-guided cruise control technology that allows a vehicle to hold with the flow of traffic, even if it comes to a complete stop.

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But one of the big questions is whether the litigious U.S. legal system will prevent the widespread use of autonomous vehicles even though the nation’s top auto safety official has suggested self-driving cars could reduce by “thousands” the annual American highway death toll.

“Connected and autonomous vehicles will be the car of the future — cars that don’t crash for drivers who live in a sea of distraction,” proclaimed Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

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Lawmaker Under Fire for Supporting Autonomous Vehicles

Driving off the edge of the flat Earth?

by on Aug.15, 2012

Is Google's autonomous vehicle prototype a threat to elderly women? So suggests a Florida GOP candidate for Congress.

Okay not every one is comfortable in with the idea of cars that drive themselves despite predictions they could start reaching the highway before the end of the decade. Some critics remain skeptical for technical reasons, while others are uncomfortable because the entire concept is just too futuristic to digest.

Nonetheless, Nevada and several other states have either adopted, or are considering, laws allowing “driverless” cars out on the road – while setting strict rules for their operation.

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But in Florida, considered a key swing state in the 2012 presidential election, such support for the driverless car law has become a key issue in a Republican primary for the state Senate.

One of his opponents is accusing Republican Rep. Jeff Brandes, who sponsored Florida’s driverless car legislation, of promoting potentially hazardous vehicles.

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